When it comes to fiction, Muslims are often left with very little choice when they try to find stories where Muslim characters are at the heart of the action. When such stories are available, many end up either reiterating some of the prevailing stereotypes about Muslims, or they attempt to dilute the very elements of our religious identity that make us who we are. As I’ve mentioned in a prior post, narratives matter.
The power that narratives hold comes from their ability to shape our identities, define our perspectives, and give a unique voice to groups. Whether used in memoirs and documentaries to convey true stories, or made-up ones in books, movies, television shows, and video games, narratives give us access to experiences that otherwise elude us. They allow us to gain a better understanding of the world we live in by introducing us to the multitude of realities that make up the human condition. At almost every level—from the family unit to the highest instances of political power—narratives are used to create a core identity that distinguishes us from others, and helps us strengthen social cohesion through the establishment of specific sets of values and norms. To control a narrative gives one the opportunity to influence the very perception of reality itself. Thus, narratives become in this context a possible site of oppression. It is imperative that we take charge of our own narrative and control it.
Muslim Futurism is one such attempt. This website is dedicated to exploring the world of Muslim fiction through a series of science fiction short stories with a dash of Muslim flavour. The aim being to craft a brand of storytelling placing Muslim characters, experiences, and narratives at the very heart of the story. Instead of trying to change the depiction of Muslims and Islam in the works of others, let us create our own creative outlets. There is not much we can do to stop the ongoing onslaught of vehement bigoted rhetoric, but there is much that we can do in creating a counter narrative that showcases the true nature of Islam, and the experiences of Muslims through our creative works.